Physical distancing lifted – official responses

Jun 24 2021 | By More

Theatres and events respond to physical distancing news

The announcement in Holyrood on Tuesday that, if all goes according to plan, physical distancing will be completely lifted on Monday 9 August 2021 has been welcomed by Edinburgh’s theatres and events organisers.

In the run up to the announcement, theatres and festivals – which have consistently supported the Scottish government’s Covid-mitigation policies – pointed out the anomalous situation which allowed the hospitality industry to open with only one metre in place, but kept theatres at a deal-breaking two metres.

The Festival, Lyceum, King’s and Traverse theatres.

Here are the responses Edinburgh’s theatres and festivals to the news that physical distancing will be relaxed to one metre from July 19 and removed altogether from 9 August. Dates which will be reviewed and confirmed one week before.

For details of the Scottish Government’s statement see news story: Theatres’ opening hope.

Capital Theatres (the King’s, Festival and Studio theatres)

Fiona Gibson, CEO:
“We welcome the clearer roadmap that the First Minister’s announcement has given us and the greater confidence it will give to artists, our staff and our audiences as they return to our venues from next week, and book for our vibrant programme of events going forward.

“We’ve worked closely with Scottish Government and the wider theatre industry to ensure that audiences can feel safe, comfortable and secure as they return to the joy of live performance. We look forward to hearing more details from the government on the theatre industry specifically so we can continue to plan positively and optimistically.”

Traverse Theatre

Linda Crooks, executive producer:
“We welcome today’s announcement which is more positive than anticipated. We are entering a period of recovery where we will carefully have to manage risk as we reopen. This roadmap is very helpful and moves us in the right direction so we are cautiously optimistic, but also aware there are details to understand and interrogate before we can commit to longer term planning with absolute confidence

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mike Griffiths Executive Director and joint Chief Executive:
“We are working on plans for the autumn, and while it’s welcome news to get some dates for possible relaxation of the regulations, we are still waiting to hear what the “beyond tier 0” requirements will be.

“The sector has been in regular contact with the government to update them on our situation, so we are looking forward being able to announce a programme as soon as we get clarity on the government’s plans after lockdown.”

Assembly Roxy:

William Burdett-Coutts, Artistic Director at Assembly Festival
“We are delighted that it finally looks like there may be some relaxation of distancing rules for performance and are very much hoping this will be in place on the dates mentioned by the First Minister, as this is essential to bringing back live performances.

“The first work to return will be with the Edinburgh Jazz Festival who will be presenting shows at Assembly Roxy from 16-25 July. The Jazz Festival programme is a hybrid of online and in-person live events, and we have configured our ground floor Central space to be flexible and allow for physical distancing measures in line with the evolving guidance from the Scottish Government.

“We expect to be able to make an announcement about work for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the near future.”

Festivals Edinburgh (The umbrella organisation for Festivals in Edinburgh)

Julia Amour, Director
“The First Minister’s statement today is an important step forward for the live events sector and it is a relief that the Scottish Government has now chosen to listen to the many voices asking them to deal with anomalies in the current social distancing guidelines.

“Although such anomalies will not be eliminated for another month, the clear timetable makes us more optimistic and means we can now focus on delivering a safe and exciting restart to Edinburgh’s Festivals this summer, while also working to help secure the long-term future of our culture and live events sectors as an essential part of national recovery.”

Edinburgh International Festival

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director:
“Today’s news from the government is very promising, both for the Edinburgh International Festival and the sector as a whole. We will continue our cautious but optimistic approach to returning to live performance here in Scotland and there won’t be any dramatic changes to how we plan or put on the events. Regarding the capacity of our outdoor venues, we will take the new advice into consideration for further discussion internally.”

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive:
“It’s hugely uplifting to see that the Scottish Government has listened to the collective voice of the culture sector, and has gone ahead in making the social distancing guidelines fairer for all.

“Today’s decision means that operators can now plan, prepare and start the difficult road to recovery. Our priority now will be in supporting Fringe producers and artists to deliver the best festival that we can in the time we have left, and to ensure our covid mitigation plan is rolled out effectively and safely.

“We will also keep using our voice to champion the arts in Scotland. We all know culture will have a vital part to play in Scotland’s recovery, and the Fringe is hugely important in that space.”

Creative Scotland

A spokesperson said:
“The ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Scotland’s culture sector cannot be underestimated and we continue to deliver significant emergency funding support to help address that impact.

“We welcome the review of current social distancing restrictions by the Scottish Government and will continue to work closely with them to support culture in Scotland through this extremely difficult time, in line with public health advice.”


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